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What Are Cool Season Grasses?

Learn about cool season grasses from landscape architect Patrick Weisel in this Howcast video.


In this video we are going to be talking about cool season grasses. If you live from the middle of the country to the northern half, say, about Virginia, Northward. You're going to want a cool season grass because those grasses are more tolerate of winter cold. However, they do tend to brown out during the summer time, so you'll need to do a little watering during then, but they will stay green during the winter for the most part.

Of the cool season grasses, there are two really broad classification. Those that need a lot of sun, which is six hours or more, or those that can take a little shade or the shade tolerance species, which you can plant under trees. The species that need a lot of sun are the Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye, and tall fescue. It used to be that most of everybody used Kentucky bluegrass, because that's your premium grass, but that requires a lot of water and a lot of fertilizing. So in the recent years they came up with a lot of new cultivars of tall fescue and perennial rye, which are well worth the homeowner's look-see. Tall fescue especially has become popular in the last few years. It is good for high mowing. It takes a lot of traffic, and it doesn't need that much fertilizer.

If you're going to want a shade tolerance species, and again the key to remember is that it is merely tolerating the shade, then you're going to want to look to fine fescues: Hard fescues, red fescues, chewing fescues. Just like the name implies, they have a very fine blade and they can take less sun.

They do germinate slower however, and that is the key question you might want to think about as well. Different species germinate at different times and require different fertility. Kentucky bluegrass germinates a little slowly. Fine fescues germinate a little slowly, so if you really want to quick your lawn. You'll probably want to look at perennial rye. That's the fasted germination of them all. So, that's pretty much of the criteria for choosing a cool season grass.

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